Where Are You Singing Now?

Where Are You Singing Now?

Recently I was listening to an interview with Denis Waitley. The interviewer asked him what advice he would give someone to turn their life around and point them in the right direction. Denis answered with the following anecdote:

“I had a UPS delivery guy tell me he always wanted to be a rock star, so I asked him, ‘where are you singing now?’. He said, nowhere I’m driving this truck and I have two children. I said no let me tell you this, whatever you want to do, you must be doing now because there isn’t a single person who wants to be in a profession who isn’t already in it. So if you want to speak, you need to speak all the time – at lunches, rotary, women’s organisations, everywhere, every time and tape every one. Then one day you’ll get an audition tape where everything will work right, but you must be now doing what you want to be doing or you’ll always be living on someday isle and it’ll be on lay away.”

Common goals people aspire to include writing a book, getting fit, starting a business, learning a musical instrument, learning a language, getting good at public speaking.

Denis asked the UPS delivery guy who wanted to be a rock star an excellent question, “where are you singing now?”.

This is a legitimate question, because everyone who is currently at the top of their game was once at the bottom. Everyone who is now in the top 2% of what they do, was once in the bottom 2%.

Starting at the bottom is ok. Never starting is not OK.

The stars are never going to line up. Your unfair boss, your negative relatives, your lack of funds, your lack of time, your lack of knowledge, your lack of perfect health are never going to suddenly change and give you the “big break” you might think you need.

The UPS delivery guy is never going to one day find himself instantly transformed into a rock star. If his dream is to come true, he needs to start singing somewhere.

You just need to start. Start somewhere. Start at the bottom but start.

And let’s face it without the struggle and the disappointment and difficulty on the way, you can’t really call it a success. We cheer the self made millionaire or billionaire who went from rags to riches and overcame great odds to be successful. But we feel a little differently about the heir who just had it all handed to them on a silver platter, don’t we?

The late great Jim Rohn puts it well:

“Let’s say you put a football under your arm and we followed you out to the nearest football stadium and you walk across the goal line. Would we cheer and call it a touchdown? The answer is no. It’s not a touchdown until you’ve faced the 300-pounders who want to smash your face in the turf. If you can muscle by them and dance by the secondary and cross the goal line with the football under your arm, now we all cheer, call it a touchdown and maybe you won the championship. But not without the contest.”

The 10,000 Hour Rule

In Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant book Outliers, he repeatedly talks about the 10,000 hour rule, proposing that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of practicing for around 10,000 hours.

One of the examples he gives is of The Beatles who performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time.

By the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, they sounded like no one else and this made them a huge “overnight success”. However without the 10,000 hours practice, we likely would never have heard of them.

Most people are intimidated by a commitment as huge as 10,000 hours – and without a doubt it is a huge undertaking. But here’s the thing – regardless of what you decide to do, the 10,000 hours are going to pass. How are you going to use yours?

Getting Your Music Out

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Former palliative care worker Bronnie Ware documented the top 5 regrets of those on their deathbed. The most common regret of all was how many dreams they had let go unfulfilled.

Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

While 10,000 hours is a difficult sacrifice to make, in contrast with dying with your “music”, your best, still in you, it seems like a small price to pay.

I often wonder how many people like Steve Jobs or Einstein or Bono the world has missed out on because the person had the skill and the natural aptitude but not the courage or determination to get their “music” out and see themselves through 10,000 hours of practice.

How many talents have gone to waste because the person didn’t even start on their dream?

It often takes a near miss for people to become conscious of their mortality. That need not be you. Near misses sometimes never come and if they do they often hurt a lot!

What could you do to become more conscious of time and start on your dream today? Where could you be “singing”?


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3 Comments

  • Dmytro Sichkar

    Reply Reply December 14, 2014

    Completely agree with you. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can! Success is accumulated effect and not a over night event.

    And about 10000 hour rule, there is similar Bruce Lee rule 🙂
    “I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.”

  • DEAN erasmus

    Reply Reply April 29, 2016

    Thanks for the great article Alan, really appreciate it.

  • Cecil

    Reply Reply July 31, 2016

    first i must say thanks very much for the article it is such a great inspiration one for me.

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